Sunday 7 October 2012

Guest Post by Kids Lit Reviews

Diane has asked me why I like to review books, what I don't like about reviewing, and a little about the authors I have meet and the books I have read.

For starters, I have been reviewing books for several years. I started when my mentor, Jill Rubacala, told me in order to write well, I needed to read as many books (at least 100), in the genre I wanted to write. So I did, and then wrote a review placing it on numerous sites across the web. One day, a spark went off. It was not fireworks, but a neuron in my head. This spark told me it was silly for me to give my words away. I needed my own review site. Kid Lit Reviews went live nearly two years ago.

But that is not why I like to review books, but how it all became formalized. I like to review books for several reasons.

              1.  ARCs. Reading a book before it's published is simply cool.

2     2.   Free Books. Who doesn't like a free book? Soon my shelves were bulging with kids books. Instead of getting more shelf, I decided to give the local library the books—which they are thrilled to get.

3       3..  People. I get to meet other bloggers (YEAH!), publishing company people (YES‼), and authors (THE BEST!).

        4.  I stay busy doing something I enjoy (writing), about something I love (books).

What I don't like about reviewing is the person who either does not read the submission guidelines or who has, but does not follow what is needed. This happens not only with authors, but also with PR Firms. Publishers are actually the best about this.

The other thing I am not thrilled with is the new trend in self-publishing, which is to make your own "publishing company" to "publish" your book. If the company only published that one book or only that one author's books, it is not a publisher. I feel like the author is trying to fool readers into thinking their book is printed by a legit publisher and/or trying to hide the self-published part of their journey. The stigma is all but gone, so own your work—with your own name not a vanity publisher.

I have met some terrific authors and a couple of not so terrific ones. I like the terrific authors better. Most authors are generous, and non-demanding. One author and illustrator were so happy with the review, they sent a print from their book and a signed copy. The print is awesome. It is above my desk where I can see it each day for inspiration. I do not expect a gift or a donation for a good review, but it was a nice surprise to receive that print. Other authors have been generous with their talent, answering my questions about writing and publishing, which had nothing to do with reading or reviewing their book, yet they took the time to answer. The not so terrific authors, reps, publishers? I will just leave at that, "not so terrific."

The one thing I do not like about reviewing is the uncertainty that anyone is reading what I have written. The same quandary writers go through. They mark their success in terms of books sold. As a reviewer, I mark my success in two ways, the number of comments each posts receives and the ease of receiving books from publishers. For me, the latter is easier, and I do not know why.

I think reviewers and writers are in this together. A reviewer should want to help that author as much as possible. I am not saying over-glorify a book that was anything but glorious, but to treat each book with respect and kindness. Remember it is the book being reviewed, not the author.

Authors can help reviewers by following any submission guidelines they might have, respond to questions and needs quickly, and remember, negative reviews and comments are going to happen, but good or bad, respond with style.  Not everyone will like your book, let's just hope most do. 

The other thing I  would love to see is the author commenting on the review, and responding to comments. People love to make contact with authors and this small short-time consuming act will increase your popularity, positive word-of-mouth, and book sales.

Sue Morris, Kid Lit Reviews

For the review I did of Diane's book, Sir Princess Petra:

Kid Lit Reviews

Books for Children


  1. Thank you, Sue, for your wonderful article and insights into the world of reviews.

  2. Um, okay. Thank you for having me.
    I hope you are healing quickly and will be back soon. I bet all your forest critters have been delighted you have been home for so long. And does this mean that book two might be off to the printer? Hey!! Oops. I mean Yeah!!

  3. Yes, book two is in the layout/illustration stage. An ARC should
    be ready for reviewers in a couple of months.
    "Ahhh, scary!"